Do you ever feel stuck in a deep hole, possibly even a well that is filling up with water, threatening to drown you?
That’s been me lately. I have been stuck in this cycle of work, spend, still feel miserable, repeat. It is so incredibly draining that it is impacting my mental health. I have so many goals and dreams that I want to accomplish but after a full day or week of working I often find myself feeling sorry for myself and then wasting my evenings or weekends watching Netflix and scrolling through Amazon.
But it isn’t getting better. In fact, it is mostly leaving me feeling even more disgusted with myself. I am wasting precious time on things that are not bettering me as a person or getting me anywhere nearer to my goals. I am desperately in need of a change.
I recently read The Year of Less by Cait Flanders as she talked about her 1 year shopping ban. I have been a follower of several minimalist blogs over the years because of how much the idea appeals to me and this book (a purchase from Amazon in a moment of desperation, but a good one as it turns out) really resonated with me. Now, I’m not sure I need to go as far as a full year for a shopping ban but the idea of getting back to essentials and reducing my spending in other areas is incredibly appealing and really might be just what I need.
In the book, Cait outlines how to do a challenge like this for yourself. She says you need to define your “why” and to make 3 lists – The Essentials List, The NO List, and The Approved List as a way to help define the parameters of the challenge. Clearly I can’t go any period of time without purchasing ANYTHING. I do need to eat. But there are several things that I can cut back or eliminate.
I decided that I am going to embark on a 6 Month Shopping Ban Challenge starting October 30, 2019 (this is the day I get paid – basically I’m going November – April) and I also decided to add a list to my planning – The Challenge List. Accountability is huge when attempting anything this drastic so even though I know I have been largely ignoring this blog for months (not getting into that here) I intend on sharing my updates on the Ban here. I’m not sure if that will be weekly, biweekly or monthly but I will definitely be checking in because I imagine this is going to give me a lot of feelings…
So now, here are my lists!
I want to be able to save more money in order to have more control over my life. I want to own less and spend more time pursuing my goals. I feel like mindless shopping gets in my way. I get an idea and then before I even let myself fully form the idea I buy a ton of stuff for it – justifying it because I NEED this stuff so I can do this hobby, business plan, etc. But I don’t. I just need to start.
The Essentials List
Definition: Items I need but only need to replace when I run out. I have been working on taking inventory to insure that I don’t purchase anything thinking it is approved when, in fact, it is lurking in the back of a cabinet. Please note: this list is NOT all inclusive.
– Face/Body Wash
– Shave Cream
– Makeup (Mascara, Eyeliner, Eyeshadow, Chapstick)
– Dog Food
– Cat Food
– Cat Litter
– Gas/Oil Changes/Car Maintenance
– Household Cleaner
The NO List
Definition: Not Allowed! (exceptions noted in parenthesis)
– Fast Food (except 2x per month)
– Target Dollar Spot Items
– Candy (unless part of grocery list – no more stops JUST for sweets!)
– Home Decor
– Throw Blankets/Pillows
– Hair Dye
– Magazine Subscriptions
The Approved List
Definition: Items I am allowed to purchase due to fitting in line with my goals OR a need I am anticipating. This may be amended but only with sound justification.
– Dog Training Classes/Treats for Training
– Supplies for beekeeping/hive maintenance
– Seeds/supplies for gardening
– Supplies for SPECIFIC projects – furniture rehab, cross-stitch or room remodels (no stocking up on craft supplies “just in case”)
– Books from Used Book Sale in April 2020 (my favorite sale!)
– Entry into Forest Park Nature Center Photography Contest
– Pajama Pants to replace pair with holes
– Gym Membership
– Spotify Subscription
– Disney+ Subscription
– 3 Haircuts (8 weeks apart)
– Black Shoes for Work
– Race Registrations (2 Races)
– Experiences (movies, musicals, etc.) with people I care about (not something I overspend in, just including it here for justification.
The Challenge List
Definition: I know that the ban itself is enough of a challenge but I wanted to add a couple of other challenges on top of it.
1. Save $5,000
With the reduced spending it should be much easier to build my savings account.
2. Complete craft projects using ONLY items that I already have stockpiled – try to reduce the stash as much as possible.
3. Get the most out of the things that I AM paying for.
Ex: Try to reduce the cost per use of the gym by going more. Read all of the books on my shelf. Read the magazines I already have subscriptions to. Cook more. Write!
In addition to starting this shopping ban I am also in the midst of another large round of decluttering. The two really go hand in hand and I’m using the inventory lists that I’m making as a way to help me downsize as well. When I’m cleaning through/writing down what I have and I find multiples it really does help to remind me of how much I already have.
I’m also planning on starting this ban off with yet ANOTHER ban (that’s right – a double ban!) I will be banning myself from TV for the month of November in order to motivate myself to get my decluttering and other things done. I feel like productivity should be an overall byproduct of the shopping ban so I’m going to give myself a little boost.
But, Rebecca, isn’t a Disney+ subscription on your approved list?
Why, yes, it is – thank you for reading so closely. This ban of course does have some exceptions. Sometimes at the end of a day that we actually get to spend together (working different shifts means we maybe get 1 night a week) Nick and I do like to snuggle and watch a movie or TV show. That is still allowed and The Mandalorian on Disney+ is high on my list of TV shows that I desperately want to watch. Intentional watching is not the issue. It’s me coming home from work and putting on a show on that I say is just going to be background noise and then not accomplishing anything because I end up sitting down and actually watching. For hours. Background noise is going to come via podcasts or music on Spotify NOT the TV.
So in addition to reporting on my Shopping Ban, for the next month I will also be reporting on my TV Ban. I might continue it into December but I have a lot of Christmas movies that I will need to be watching in December…